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Contact (1997)

A journey to the heart of the universe. | guide

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Old Jan 22, 2001, 11:03 AM   #1
pk
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Thumbs up Re: Book vs. Movie

The movie's good, no doubt about that. But, the book takes the cake, candles and all. As Hollywood is apt to do, they've taken the basic story from the book, embellished it with a healthy overdose of melodrama and sentiment and unfortunately left out some of the most important parts of the novel - probably because the dimwits couldn't understand them in the first place.

The conversation with the aliens should have focussed on so much more - the commonality between all (?) species through the immutable scientific constants, the ongoing search of the aliens themselves, for 'the truth' ...

... as it was, the actual contact in the movie turns out to be a very big damp squib.

And the part i was really looking forward to - the ending of the novel where ellie searches through millions of pi's digits to discover the circle (a strange loop) - which hints of an unseen order behind all scientific constants and promises of much to be discovered, was sadly left out. Like i said, try explaining pi to the hollywood types!!

In summary, Contact, the novel was an excellent work of science fiction. The movie, on the other hand, is much more fiction and much less science.

In that sense, it does detract from what otherwise would have been a fitting obituary for Carl Sagan.

[Edited by pk on Jan 22, 2001 at 02:10 PM]
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Old Mar 17, 2001, 09:39 PM   #2
Uplah
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My thoughts...

The book is certainly different from the film. The introductory description of Ellie in her early days seem to be very fragmented and didn't flow. There were lots of conferences which happens all the time in Science! Dr Hadden's character was plain weird - so kind of deranged pervert. The ending wasn't very satisfactory, everyone got to meet who they wanted (several people travelled in the transport), they were banned from active discussion of the whole affair, and the machine only worked once?! Carl Sagan was trying to be a bit clever and weave a message in Pi thus indicating the presence of an entity that was about when the universe was created, i.e., indications of God. This is very weak however, when you consider Pi is an infinite "random" number hence the probability of finding a "message" is 1 - analagous to the 100 monkeys that can type up the work of Shakespeare by chance...
You're right that there was a major overhaul to the story for the movie, but I think it was done in the best possible way. There are dim wits out there so you do have to simplify things. I supoose the story only rings true if you have a scientific background because it is quite clear that all aspects and arguments make sense in Ellie's (a scientist's) point of view, and it's a bit different if your a religious viewer (my friend could not understand why I liked the film after he watched it twice - he's deeply religious medic!)

The meeting with the alien was brief, but that was to account for time she was "out". The book wasn't much better though since it was very vague, Ellie meeting her dad, and the other's meeting who ever they wanted to meet. There were few details and then they went back! I don't the end part was the most important, but more of how people interact and what characteristics they have. The film ended happily, whereas the book ended with the weak mystery message in Pi (I initially thought it was cool but my brother smashed it with the probability thing...)
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Old Apr 20, 2002, 07:44 PM   #3
BalrogTim
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Re: Book vs. Movie

pk, have you ever seen the independent movie, Pi? It is a very good black and white thriller about one man's descent into madness as he tries to uncover a pattern in Pi. A good movie, I give it a 9/10(Contact and Pi).
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Old May 9, 2002, 09:05 PM   #4
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Re: Book vs. Movie

I just got the book, hope to be reading it soon. From what I hear, a very good book, it shall occupy my time for a bit. Thanks for the information.
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Old May 12, 2002, 04:18 PM   #5
BalrogTim
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Book vs. Movie

What were some things about the book that made it better than the movie and visa-versa.
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Old May 12, 2002, 09:05 PM   #6
cabalcomb
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Re: Book vs. Movie

It has been several years since I read the book. Both the book and movie are very good. The book is better, mostly because it goes into greater depth. There are more characters with more complex motives and relationships in the book. The character of Ellie is more interesting in the book. Her relationship with her father, mother and step-father are much more complex. In the movie Ellie does not have a mother. In the book she has a troubled relationship with her mother. She is angry with her for remarrying soon after her father dies. Near the end of the book she has to face the fact that her mother is dying in the hospital.

The book has more detail and explaination of the world's reaction to the message. There is a lengthy process of the selecting of the Five scientists that will ride in the machine. The book describes a lot of political negotations about who will go on the mission and which countries will have astronauts on the machine. There is a greater explaination of the scientific aspects of the search for a message and the interpretting of the message when it is discovered. There is no great love story in the book as I remember. Carl Sagan's novel is well worth reading.

The movie is not exactally the same as the book, but it is a good interpretation of it. I thought it was well done. My biggest disappointment is that Carl Sagan, (the author, scientist and a producer of the film) died before the film was released. He was a great man. Sagan was a well respected scientist who gave us a wonderful story in "Contact". He is missed. He belongs to the stars now.

http://contact-themovie.warnerbros.com/
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Old May 12, 2002, 09:08 PM   #7
BalrogTim
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Re: Book vs. Movie

Well, we are all made of star stuff.
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Old Apr 1, 2006, 05:50 PM   #8
NYPinTA
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Re: Book vs. Movie

For me, I actually liked the movie better. The book was good, but the movie was tighter storywise IMO. They left out some of the unceccesary family drama and characters.
There were moments from the book that I would have liked in the movie, but the story didn't suffer because they weren't included.
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Old Apr 2, 2006, 11:28 AM   #9
Optimus Prime
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Re: Book vs. Movie

I liked both and I just managed yesterday to get my hands on a 1st edition hardcover of Contact. Yay me. I love used bookstores.
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